I was lucky enough to receive a very generous birthday present last year of a days cookery course at Leiths School of Food and Wine in West London. The course I choose was knife skills and butchery. We learnt how to prepare 3 joints of meat for the oven and the best bit was being able to bring them home afterwards! The first piece of meat we tackled was tunnel boning a leg of lamb, this is something you could easily ask your butcher to do for you.
If you want to do it yourself, there isn't really a secret, it is just a matter of following the bones with you knife and working round the joints. Make sure you have a sharp knife, hold the joint with one had and the knife with your other, always cut away from the hand holding the meat. Starting at one end of the leg, scrape and cut the flesh away from the bone and then work from the other end. Cut the skin as little as possible at the shank end. Make sure you get the knee cap out as well as the leg bones, also remove any glands from the meat which are translucent grey nodules about the size of a hazel nut. While you are there you can also remove any excess fat from the outside and inside of the cavity.
Tunnel boning, rather than cutting the leg open means that you can stuff the leg and it needs minimal effort to secure everything before roasting.
So on Sunday I decided it was time I cooked the leg of lamb that I have had prepared and stored in the freezer since November! I had a look online and choose a Gordon Ramsay recipe I found on the times website. His recipe for the stuffing has tonnes of ingredients and the juices that poured out of the joint while it cooked made a very strong tasting but totally delicious gravy. I served the lamb with simple Boulangere potatoes and broccoli so as to avoid adding any more big flavours to the meal. The lamb made a very well received January Sunday roast for 6 and the leftovers, a couple of excellent Monday lunch box sandwiches.
Stuffed leg of lamb is definitely a recipe I would make again, Jamie Oliver's recipe involves olives, anchovies and pine nuts so maybe I'll try that one next time!
Ingredients (serves 6-8):
2-2.5kg boned leg of lamb
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
200g Feta cheese, chopped into 1cm cubes
Zest of 1 lemon
4 semi-dried tomatoes in oil, chopped (I used about 50g)
50g pitted kalamata olives, chopped
Big handful of spinach leaves, chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 large handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 large handful of mint leaves, chopped
4 slices of pancetta (I used a few more than that)
Olive oil, to drizzle
Generous splash of red wine
Pre-heat the oven to 220C.
Place the lamb on a chopping board and lightly score the fat in a criss cross pattern. Rub salt and pepper all over and inside the cavity.
Mix together the feta, lemon zest, tomatoes, olives, spinach, garlic and herbs. Spoon the mixture into the cavity of the lamb and press with the back of a spoon to pack as much in as possible.
Wrap both open ends of the lamb with pancetta to secure the filling, then tie with kitchen string at intervals (I put string in both directions, length ways over the pancetta to keep it in place and then a couple more pieces around the joint).
Roast in the oven for 20 minutes and then reduce the heat to 190C and roast for 20 minutes per 500g for medium cooked meat (mine took 1 hour 40 minutes).
Half an hour before the lamb is done, pour a generous splash of wine into the pan and continue roasting. Check the lamb 15 minutes before it is ready by piercing the centre with a metal skewer, hold it there for a few seconds and then it should feel warm against your hand when removed.
Take the lamb out of the oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes before carving. Serve with the juices from the pan (the juices were delicious but a bit lumpy so I put the pan on the hob, added more wine and reduced it, I added some flour mixed with water to help thicken and it was a lot more uniform in texture and gravy like).
For the Boulangere Potatoes (serves 6):
2 Onions, thinly sliced
A few sprigs of thyme
2 tbsp olive oil
1.5kg floury potatoes (I used Maris Piper), thinly sliced
425ml veg stock (i made this from Marigold Bouillon)
Heat the oven to 200C.
Fry the onions and thyme sprigs in the oil until softened and lightly coloured (about 5 mins).
Spread a layer of the sliced potatoes over the base of a 1.5 litre oiled gratin dish.
Sprinkle over some of the onions and continue layering, finishing with a layer of potatoes. Pour over the stock and bake for 50-60 minutes until the top is golden and crisp.
Best eaten with appreciative housemates and served with a glass of red wine.